Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A self-journey during spring break 2014

I’ve heard enough compliments about how beautiful the west coast is, and finally I got a chance to take the Coast Starlight Train from Los Angeles, along the west coast, all the way to Seattle.

Taking some quiet time and reflecting by myself is always enjoyable for me. This is a good opportunity to know myself better and clear my mind from everyday conversations, so I decided to take this trip alone.

LA, surprisingly, was raining upon my arrival. This was a bit disappointing at the beginning since everyone comes to LA with the expectation of enjoying sunshine.  But the climate there and the experiences of Hollywood still brought me enough joy.  I enjoyed the time I spent at Universal Studios, the Walk of Fame and Pasadena Old Town. My favorite part of the trip at LA was the VIP Tour at Warner Brother Studios. The VIP tour groups 12 people in a group, and the tour guide leads people through the studio to see filming places in well-known movies. The guide explains details about how moviemakers changed the decorations of these places to make them look differently in various movies. The most exciting part of the tour was to visit the site used for filming the most successful past TV show, FRIENDS, and the most popular current one, The Big Bang Theory.  Another reason I enjoyed LA is that cultural diverse brings various cuisines to LA. Walking around Little Tokyo and Little Thai Town added a tasty memory to my journey.

The long train trip from LA to Seattle was relaxing and beautiful. The Coast Starlight Train goes through areas with ocean, river, mountain, cropland and jungle. Diverse scenery along the west coast makes it enjoyable enough even just staring at the window and let your mind wondering freely.  Reading books and keeping journal was a great relaxing for me.  After 34 hours journey on the railway, the train arrived King Cross Station at Seattle.

Rain was patting Seattle gently when the train approached the station. Seattle is always rainy at early March.  Hot coffee at rainy windy winter is perfect to satisfy your body and soul; inspired by this idea, at the year 1971, the first Starbucks started at Seattle. The first Starbucks shop is still opening there. That is a small store, without any seat, located at Pike Place Market. Everyday there are many people from all around the world to find the original taste of Starbucks there. Pike Place is the most historic farmer market in the US, and attracts many venders and artists gathering there.  Every morning, fish venders through fresh fishes from one to another while yelling loudly to attract customers.  Different kinds of music keep hovering around the market; people can buy CDs from these artists as a way to support their music. All kind of free samples are available to customers, fruit, nuts, cheese, jam, you name it, and they have it.  My favorite shop is a French bakery called Le Panier.  I still miss the mornings I spend there with warm coffee and authentic French bread. Although Seattle is famous for keep raining during early March, my second day there turned out to be a super sunny day! The view from Space Needle was spectacular in such sunny weather. Besides Union Lake, downtown Seattle you can also clearly see the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. The campus of University of Washington was more than beautiful under sunshine. The grad library there has similar style as the reading room at Hogwarts. Many other buildings also have the medieval-castle style, which is my favorite. Seeing students playing Frisbee, talking to each other and playing music on the lawn make me started missing my campus at Ann Arbor. It was also near the time I should head back. After a vacation full of enjoyable memory and ambrosial foods, I was ready to back to classes. - Prepared by Cecily Wu